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Memories, Traditions, and Henrik Lundqvist

[Note by 8kpower, 07/26/11 8:11 AM PDT Great write up and a fun read. We had some scheduling problems this morning, so enjoy this to break up the day! ]

I’ve been wanting to post this for awhile, but was waiting for the right time. I finally decided it was time, especially in the dog days of summer with no hockey (and only Cally’s arbitration left, really).

I became a Rangers fan when I was six years old and my sister forced me to watch the Rangers every night during the 91-92 season. Great season to start watching since we had 50 wins in 80 GP. Ever since, I can remember important moments in my life based on what happened to the Rangers that season. ’94, when we won the cup, was the same year my grandmother passed away. The day I graduated middle school, Gretzky had his hat trick against the Flyers in the ’97 Eastern Conference finals. I started high school a month before we gave Mess a 4-minute standing ovation the night of his first regular season game back from Vancouver. A month after 9/11 I remember holding a lady’s hand during the introductions because she burst into tears when Mess came out wearing the firefighter helmet. Her husband was in Tower 2 when it had collapsed.

Join me after the jump for more. 

After my freshman year of college, the lockout happened. I missed everything hockey. Luckily it was also the year I met my future wife. I started with wearing it while writing essays, then to quizzes, then to tests. I don’t why, maybe something with the comfort of home, but it seemed to work. I did much better when I wore the hat than when I didn’t.

So when the Rangers came back in 2005, I decided I wanted to keep the hat, but get a new jersey. My Messier jersey was getting raggedy and he hadn’t played in years. I figured that it was time for new one. I didn’t want a Jagr jersey – he never really felt like a Ranger to me. Call me crazy. We had gotten rid of our season tickets once I went to college, but when I was back over Thanksgiving break, I caught a game over the weekend.

I don’t know how many of your were actually there, but I’m sure you all remember it. We were on our longest winning streak in a really long time in the first game that Jagr played the Caps in NY since he was traded to NY (pre-lockout). It was tied after 3 and went to (what I think still is) the longest shootout in NHL history ending with Marek Malik’s ridiculous between the legs goal. But what I remember most about that game was Hank. Not since Richter had left did we have a goalie who could change the game. Not since Richter left was everyone so amped about our goaltender at all. And I didn’t understand that until I had been standing for half an hour during the shootout chanting “Hen-rik!” over and over again.

So that was it: Hank would be my guy. I saved up enough money for a blue Hank jersey and got a white one for Christmas (best gift ever btw before or since). My first exam in the Spring that year was the same day as Game 4 of the Rangers-Devils series that year. I was so excited that we were in the playoffs after missing the 7 years, it didn’t matter that we were getting killed in the series. We were there and that’s all that mattered. I wore my Hank jersey to every exam that year and absolutely blew them away. Best exam grades ever.

Thus a tradition was born. Over the next five years and after getting 3 degrees (BA, MBA, JD), I have worn my blue or white Hank jersey to every exam. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I take the dreaded NY Bar Exam, basically the entrance exam for lawyers. Tuesday is the NY law section (the blue jersey, obviously), Wednesday is the national law section (white jersey, again, pretty obvious). After that, I ship off to the UAE for work for the next three years. My days of exams are over.

I know that we all have similar stories, especially those of us who grew up as Rangers fans. These little personal traditions, though, are not something we share that much with each other as Rangers fans. So I wanted to share mine with two hopes:

a) that others will share their personal traditions with rest of us, no matter how crazy, and

b) that we all start developing a unified set of traditions.

This is OUR club after all. Whoever owns it, runs it, or plays for it: they will be gone at some point, and we will still remain. We ARE the Rangers, in a way that few of the players will ever be (retiring numbers to me is just our way of saying, “okay, NOW you’re a Ranger”).

So have at it and share your thoughts. This was as much about bringing us together as it was about personal catharsis for me.

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